MHA issues letters to nine for correction and apology in mis-stating minister's speech

·Editorial Team
·2 min read
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam speaking in Parliament on 4 October 2021. (SCREENSHOT: Ministry of Information and Communications/YouTube)
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam speaking in Parliament on 4 October 2021. (SCREENSHOT: Ministry of Information and Communications/YouTube)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued letters on Wednesday (6 October) to nine people who had published online posts which mis-stated a Parliament speech on rule of law by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Tuesday.

Those who received the letters were: Lawyer and opposition party leader Lim Tean; film-makers Martyn See and Lynn Lee; Andrew Loh, former editor of The Online Citizen; online journalist Kirsten Han; writer Julie O’Connor; activists Jolovan Wham and Kokila Annamalai; and the administrator for the Wake Up Singapore website.

MHA said in a media release on Thursday that the letters had required them to correct the false statements and apologise. Seven of them have done so, while Lim and Wham have yet to correct their posts or issue an apology on their respective Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The misrepresentations were also published by social news website Mothership on Tuesday. The website has published an editor’s note to clarify and correct the misrepresentation.

Minister's Parliament speech touching on rule of law in Singapore

Shanmugam was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, following his wrap-up speech on the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act.

He said that rule of law is fundamental and basic for Singapore and its success, and the government has always been committed to it.

He added that there are countries around the world where the rule of law is a concept for lawyers, but does not operate in the real world, and their societies live in utter misery. According to Mothership's clarification, the minister had used this as a contrast to how the rule of law is applied in Singapore.

Mothership's note added, "Our earlier version gave the impression that Minister Shanmugam has changed his mind on rule of law. This is wrong and taken out of context."

MHA said that the nine persons had put up posts which attributed to Shanmugam the very opposite of what he had said. 

"They suggested that the minister had said that rule of law does not operate in Singapore. That is false," the ministry said.

POFMA order for Jolovan Wham

In a statement on Friday, MHA said it has instructed the POFMA Office to issue a Correction Direction to Wham for a tweet dated 6 October as it communicates the falsehood that Shanmugam adopts the view that the rule of law does not operate anywhere in the real world, including in Singapore. Wham will be required to publish the correction notice on his online platform.

"Eight of the nine persons have since apologised for what they did and/or corrected their posts. Only Mr Jolovan Wham has not published the clarifications. He has been issued a POFMA Correction Direction today," MHA said.

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